In a Contagious keynote, I will often ask the question “what does it take to be an effective leader?” The answers vary and, of course, there is always the not so obvious answer of “Followers!” but usually an audience will also include communication skills, vision, and the ability to make a decision. However, recently, I heard an answer that seems to perfectly capture a common challenge among Contagious Leaders: “A leader doesn’t let their speed outrun their headlights!” Hmmm… have you ever done this? How do you avoid it in the hustle and bustle of leading a team and managing the business? Here are a few suggestions:
Recognize the Value of a Decision is Usually in its Outcome
If you are rushing to make a decision without considering the outcome first, you might run into trouble. Run a few what if scenarios. Test your possible decision, unless the building is literally or figuratively on fire, before rapid implementation and remember, rushed bad decisions result in rapidly risky results and very often declining morale or return on your investment.
If the Direction Changes, So Must the Leader
Leaders must be strong to last the test of time and all the “elements” so to speak, but they must also be flexible. If you are married to a decision or the method to achieve the outcome, emotionally invested in it, you may have lost your objectivity and thus, the rationale ability to go with the flow when things change. Can you get the same great outcome coming from more than one direction? Almost always.
Practicing the Walk Can Create a Better Run
What if you’re not sure about how the decision will pan out and how it will affect the team or your customers or your leadership? As we say in speaking “when in doubt, leave it out” or merely take bite size parts of your decision and implement those one at a time to see how things begin to look. Baby steps are better than no steps and often more comfortable than big leaps in unsure territory.
Leaders who move at a snail’s pace, might lose out on a race or two, but there is always something to be said for the leader who is a steady eddy and gets there faster than the hare who ran ahead and hit a wall, unable to move forward for the foreseeable future. Wow, now that’s almost a riddle. Watch out for your speed, but keep an eye on what’s ahead. Your progress as a leader, and everything else you do, is contagious!
Monica Wofford, MBA, CSP, is an international speaker, trainer, and author who helps managers who were promoted, actually become prepared to lead.